Thursday, June 28, 2007

City's Approval of Northcross Wal-Mart Prompts Lawsuit

The city approved plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter at Northcross Mall earlier this week, but Responsible Growth for Northcross isn’t giving up yet.

Today RG4N filed a lawsuit against the city and mall owner Lincoln Property Company to block what they contend is an illegal site plan. Although distaste for Wal-Mart's corporate conduct is the touchstone for opposition to their presence at Northcross, it was Austin city management that all but ensured the redevelopment’s approval before details were made public and before the "big box" ordinance came up for debate at city council.

Hopefully the lawsuit will at least shed some light on how the city went about approving the site plans. I'm not sure it has much chance of stopping the invasion of blue vests, though.

5 comments:

Mike said...

At some point, Greg, you've got to come to the conclusion that the people who knew what they were talking about all along (who have experience with zoning issues in this city) were actually right. There's no "illegal" here. Just because we don't like the tenant doesn't mean we should abandon the rule of law.

Greg said...

I don't think filing a lawsuit equates to abandoning the rule of law, Mike. I think it's worth finding out more about how the city approved Lincoln's initial site plan ahead of the big box ordinance. I still think whatever gets built at Northcross will be better as a result of RG4N's opposition, too.

Mike said...

The lawsuit's whole premise is that the site plan was illegally approved. But everybody who knows anything about zoning knows it was completely legal - which, again, points back to a tantrum because RG4N didn't like the _tenant_.

As for ending up with something better, all you need to do is look at the VMU shenanigans (especially Allandale's executive committee's decision) to realize that the people like me who were telling you that most of RG4N's supporters really didn't want some dense mixed-use project there either were telling the truth.

I predict a project abandoned halfway through a la Intel with a possible side of Chapparal Ice going out of business too. And nobody else is going to come in and invest even more money on a denser project given Allandale's extremely low residential density (2nd least dense neighborhood in the city, as reluctantly pointed out by allandalereporter.org). The only outcome likely to prevent this, which would be far worse for the city than even a traditional Wal-Mart, would be a quick summary dismissal.

Greg said...

Even if the courts ordered the site plans to be resubmitted, I'd be surprised if Wal-Mart/Lincoln cut and ran from Northcross. There aren't a lot of other near-central locations for them to build a Supercenter. I don't think the neighborhoods are wrong in using that as leverage.

As for VMU, though, I will say Allandale NA was excessive in the number of opt-out recommendations they made along Burnet.

Mike said...

"I don't think the neighborhoods are wrong in using that as leverage."

Call me Establishment Man, but suing when you don't have a case, requiring the whole city to pay the bills, seems to me to be Quite Wrong.